We guess they meant well but… is it bad that abolitionist used lighter-skinned slave children in a propaganda campaign to raise more money for slaves after emancipation? And did y’all know the anniversary of Lincoln’s slavery emancipation order happened this weekend?
Sept. 22, 2012 marks the 150 year anniversary of when President Abraham Lincoln first issued a preliminary order emancipating slavery in the Confederate States, although efforts to ensure quality living conditions for blacks in the South would continue to be a long and difficult battle. In the 1860s, abolitionists circulated photos of pale-skinned, newly emancipated slave children to help raise money for struggling African-American schools in New Orleans, believing that images of “white” looking children would draw more sympathy — and more money — from Northern donors. The photos, like the one seen here, were mass produced and sold for 25 cents a piece.
Okay, we kinda have a hard time believing these photos sold for a quarter a piece tho? Like people were collecting lil slave baby trading cards?
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The portraits, commissioned by the National Freedman’s Association, featured five newly-freed slave children of mixed backgrounds sitting in different poses meant to appeal to white Northerners. Here, Rebecca Huger, Charley Taylor and Rosina Downs, all from New Orleans, sit for photographers in 1864. It was thought that more people would sympathize with children who had fairer complexions, and the photos would therefore raise more money for schools down south.
For the photos, the children were often dressed in beautiful clothing and posed next to symbols of American freedom, such as the American flag. Rebecca Huger, who had served as a slave in her father’s house in New Orleans, was 11 when she posed for this portrait, captioned “Oh! How I love the old flag.”
As part of the campaign, the emancipated children were also sent on a publicity tour throughout northern states to try to raise money for impoverished schools back home.
“The nett [sic] proceeds from the sale of these photographs will be devoted to the education of colored people in the Department of the Gulf, now under the command of Maj. Gen Banks,” reads the back of this card, featuring Rosina Downs, Charles Taylor and Rebecca Huger wrapped in American flags.
Charley Taylor had been sold as a slave twice in New Orleans before heading north with abolition organizers as part of the propaganda campaign.
The campaign first received attention in a Harper’s Weekly feature, “Emancipated Slaves, White and Colored” in 1864. Here, two of the children, Isaac White and Augusta Broujey, stand with a woman identified as Mary Johnson, thought to be a freed slave.
In attempt to win the support of Northerners, Harper’s Weekly described the slave children as being just “as white, as intelligent, as docile as most of our own children.”
These practices come as no surprise to us. It’s no secret that to this day Hollyweird finds it easier to sell images of blacks who have lighter skin and more European features. Do you think the abolitionists were wrong to use these tactics to help their cause?
Do you think that it’s okay that they played on prejudices since it was just a means to an end?
Library Of Congress